Intergenerational Aid for Digital Inclusivity
My Role : Design Researcher
Duration : 20 months
Keywords : User Experience Design, Ageing Research, Gerontechnology, Inclusive Design, Accessibility, Warm Technology, Participatory Research, Usability Testing
Full thesis coming soon.
As digital immigrants of the 21st century, the current elderly always seem to have difficulty catching up with digital technologies. When day-to-day services like banking, healthcare, travel, etc., become entirely digitized without giving seniors the required time, education, or support to get on board, it gradually chips at their independence, dignity, and agency. To keep afloat in this rapidly digitizing world, most seniors are forced to seek support from the people around them - younger family members, neighbors, friends, community volunteers, etc. This research explores the various facets and multitudes of this digital support system. What factors influence this intergenerational digital support between seniors and younger generations? What is the role of technology and its design in this context?
What factors influence this intergenerational digital support between seniors and younger generations? What is the role of technology and its design in this context?
Through qualitative interviews and participatory workshops, this thesis delves into various stakeholders' perspectives - including seniors, younger generations, community volunteers, tech coaches, etc. The research is also fundamentally informed by my experience as a regular volunteer at the West End Seniors Network, an NGO offering social and community support for seniors in Vancouver. After a thorough thematic analysis of the data gathered, the paper derives key insights under the following themes - (1) A Generational Divide, (2) The 'Why' of intergenerational support, (3) The 'How' of intergenerational support, (4) Benefits and (5) Barriers.
With these insights, the research attempts to situate the role of intergenerational aid in the broader picture of digital inclusivity for seniors. Intergenerational support is but a facet of this wicked crisis; other stakeholders like family, community, government, private companies, etc., also share responsibility in keeping seniors apace with the digital world. I then apply this research to offer potential best practices for multiple stakeholders to cohesively improve seniors' digital literacy. However, while this is a more significant systemic change proposed for the long run, we could now take small steps and solutions to contribute towards the larger goal, like capitalizing on the benefits of this already widespread intergenerational digital support. In light of this, I have designed and prototyped a mobile application to better facilitate this digital support between seniors and youngsters, focusing more on efficiency and relationship-building potential.
Thematic Analysis of Data
Mid Fidelity Wireframes & User Testing Feedback (In Progress)
High Fidelity Prototype (In Progress)